Announced end to DACA program is 'reprehensible,' U.S. bishops say

By Rhina Guidos

(CNS) — Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced Sept. 5 that the Deferred
Action for Childhood Arrivals program is “being rescinded” by President
Donald Trump, leaving some 800,000 youth, brought illegally to the U.S. as minors, in
peril of deportation and of losing permits that allow them to work.

Although the Department of
Homeland Security will immediately stop accepting applications to the DACA
program, current recipients would not be affected until March 5, which
Sessions said will “create a time period for Congress to act — should it

He described the 2012 policy,
popularly known as DACA and implemented under President Barack Obama, as an
“unconstitutional exercise of authority by the executive branch.”

DACA does not provide legal
status for youths who were brought to the country without legal permission as
children, but it gives recipients a temporary reprieve from deportation and
employment authorization in the United States — as long as the applicants meet
certain criteria.

In the days leading up to the
decision, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, along with other Catholic
organizations, asked the president to keep the program.

A Sept. 5 statement from the
U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops called the cancellation of DACA “reprehensible”
and something that “causes unnecessary fear for DACA youth and their

“Today, our nation has done
the opposite of how Scripture calls us to respond. It is a step back from the
progress that we need to make as a country,” they said, adding that the
decision by the Trump administration is a “heartbreaking moment in our
history that shows the absence of mercy and goodwill, and a short-sighted
vision for the future.”

The bishops also urged Congress
to “immediately resume work toward a legislative solution.”

They told DACA recipients: “You
are children of God and welcome in the Catholic Church. The Catholic Church
supports you and will advocate for you.”

The statement was signed by Cardinal
Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, USCCB president; Los Angeles Archbishop
Jose H. Gomez, USCCB vice president; Bishop Joe S. Vasquez of Austin, Texas, chairman
of the Committee on Migration; and Bishop Joseph J. Tyson of Yakima, Washington,
chairman of the Subcommittee on Pastoral Care of Migrants, Refugees, and

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Follow Guidos on Twitter: @CNS_Rhina

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